A two-vehicle crash involving a semi truck Sunday in Big Horn County killed two men and sent another woman to a Billings hospital by emergency helicopter.
The semi caught fire after the collision, and the flames spread into nearby grass, resulting in the Roadside 423 fire, a grass fire a quarter of a square mile in size that required firefighters from Crow Agency BIA and Big Horn County to respond.
Both victims in the crash were identified Monday afternoon by Big Horn County Coroner Terry Bullis.
The crash took place south of Hardin at about 1:40 p.m. on Secondary Highway 313 after a semi truck crossed the center line into oncoming traffic. The semi struck a Pontiac Bonneville passenger car occupied by three people from Hardin. Speed is being investigated as a possible factor in the crash.
The driver of the semi was the only person in that vehicle, and he was uninjured. He was described in a Montana Highway Patrol crash narrative as a 17-year-old male from Hardin.
Thomas Tauscher, 58, was driving the Pontiac. He died of injuries sustained in a two-vehicle head-on collision, Bullis said. The other man who died in the crash was Jerry Wayne Lively, a 67-year-old Hardin resident, according to Bullis.
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The 58-year-old woman who was injured, also from Hardin, was flown to St. Vincent Healthcare for treatment.
Both men and the woman were wearing their seat belts. The men were found dead upon the arrival of responders, the MHP narrative says.
The semi had been traveling southbound on Highway 313 toward St. Xavier when it drifted across the center line into oncoming traffic near mile marker 15, according to MHP. The semi struck the northbound passenger car. After the collision the semi went off the left shoulder and was completely destroyed by fire, the MHP narrative says.
The MHP trooper investigating the crash did not pick up when called by a Billings Gazette reporter Monday afternoon.
The Roadside 423 fire was contained Sunday but crews were still working to control it Monday, said Tracy Spang, the assistant fire management officer for Crow Agency BIA Fire. Winds and an approaching storm helped the fire grow at one point, Spang said. Firefighters were expected to have the fire controlled Monday.